DOWNTOWN LANGUAGES is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing opportunities for immigrants and building respect and understanding across cultures by providing language, literacy, and other educational programs. They envision a vibrant community where people of all cultures feel welcome and can participate effectively. Southtowne supports Downtown Languages in various ways.
The founder of Downtown Languages saw that there was a need for people to learn English affordably. Paulina Romo Villaseñor now leads the organization. There is a huge need for this type of service and serves the most marginalized in our community. A large percentage of our population is latino – as much as 30% in some schools. Paulina’s dream is that the latino community become more integrated in the larger community, breaking barriers that currently exist.
In addition to 3 levels of English classes, Downtown Languages offers citizenship classes, bilingual computer programs, GED readiness, and PILAS family literacy programs for families with children 13 and under.
PILAS partners with local school districts and Lane ESD as well as United Way of Lane County and other community organizations.
PILAS works with 160 Bethel and Springfield families. The program includes pre-k readiness classes, K-8 literacy and academic support, family activities, and English classes for parents. Childcare is provided. Teenagers volunteer in the classrooms.
Pilas is offered in the fall and spring in Eugene and Springfield. Families accepted into the program receive full scholarships to attend. Southtowne supports this program by providing financial support as well as giving books and providing volunteers for special events and during classes.